George Galloway's comments on rape, in connection with the Assange controversy, have outraged many on the left who have not paid much attention to Galloway before.
That is good. They have even sparked criticism, perhaps opportunistic, from some whose general stance over the years has been to defend Galloway and promote him as a leader of the left. But what is important to understand is that Galloway's latest outbursts are not an aberration, but entirely consistent with his broader politics.
In terms of economic policy, Galloway was never better than a middle-of-the-road Labour careerist. His politics on anything to do with religion and international conflicts mark him out as something much worse.
Galloway has often taken reactionary positions on issues connected to women's rights. For instance, he is anti-choice, against a woman's right to have an abortion.
And he has always been willing to subordinate principles which define any real left — women's liberation, LGBT liberation, democracy, working-class struggle — to his warped version of “anti-imperialism”. He has backed pretty much any regime which clashes with the US (particularly in the Middle East — Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Assad's Syria, Iran) not only against the US but against its own people.
Galloway has not suddenly gone off the rails. His political trajectory dates back to at least 1994, when he visited Saddam Hussein and publicly fawned before him. Yet for much of that period big sections of the left have courted and promoted him. Even after his falling out with the SWP in Respect, they hailed his victory in Bradford West this year.
Galloway should never have been accepted as part of the left. His star may now be waning, but the role he has played over the last decade highlights the need to put the left's house in order.
Readers who want to have a look the AWL's comments on George Galloway, going back to 1994, can find it all here.